ON Tuesday in this space I wrote about the allegations made against Peter Mandelson by the Conservative shadow chancellor of the exchequer George Osborne; they concerned decisions taken by Lord Mandelson when he was Trade Commissioner in the European Union that could have been influenced by social contacts between Mandelson and those benefitting from those decisions. Now Mr Osborne himself is under a heavy cloud of suspicion because he is accused of having being involved in discussions about funding for the Conservative Party with members of the very same social group mentioned in the accusations affecting Lord Mandelson - Nat Rothschild, a prosperous City trader and friend of David Cameron and George Osborne at University, and two very rich Russians.

George Osborne has insisted that he has done nothing wrong even though it is clearly against the law to solicit or accept funding for a British political party from a foreign individual or company. In a remarkable intervention yesterday Nat Rothschild told Mr Osborne that he has independent witnesses of conversations that took place about funding for the Conservatives. Lord Mandelson has also denied the quite different and unsubstantiated accusations made against him, saying that he is perfectly well able to keep his official and private lives separate. On Tuesday I wrote that in financial matters politicians need to ensure that no conflict arises or appears to arise between their public duties and private interests. Neither George Osborne nor Peter Mandelson seems concerned to take account of this important guideline. They should be.


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